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One of the clause of Prevention of Money Laundering Act which makes it impossible to get bail by a convict who has already served three years in the jail if the public prosecutor has opposed the same has been set aside by the Supreme Court.
The ruling of the judgement of the SC has its significance in light of the government rules under this act which treat all money in the bank accounts not linked to aadhaar card as the laundered money.
Justice RF Nariman and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul stated that the Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act puts a presumption on the innocence of the accused and it is a drastic provision as the presumption of innocence is fundamental to the accused. It is also further observed by the court that the section also violates Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Section 45 of the Act provides that a bail cannot be granted to accused unless public prosecutor has been given opportunity to oppose it. The Court further stated that the provision compels the interest of state for tackling the serious crime because in absence of the interest of state the section 45 violates the Article 21 of the constitution.
The submission by the Attorney General for India (AGI) KK Venugopal is that the provision is required for dealing with the cancer of money laundering. The AGI further submitted that the intention of legislature behind this act was to bring the money back which was spinned in other economy and section 45 is in furtherance of this motive only. He further added that section 45 is the crucial provision to ensure the money is brought back in the indian economy. The submissions however has been dismissed by the court.
The court however held that the provision is unjust, arbitrary and discriminatory and the bail condition laid in provision is harsh, wrongful, burdensome and unconstitutional.